Friday, January 27, 2012

Seasonal diets, binges or normality?

I am sure it was the last government who said, “No more boom and bust”. If you take an average of December and January in terms of trading figures, you get a good but not spectacular month. December was a hugely busy month but January is never really poor, but is never really busy either.

Restaurants work best when they are busy, staff tend to be motivated more, customers like the buzz and atmosphere, and owners worry less.  If every month was December, the business would be very profitable but I wonder if the product would be as good. Lots of big tables mean a fast and slow service. It is much easier to send six tables of two than a table of twelve, and much easier to serve and clear from the front of house point of view. The best case scenario would be full, but not crazy full, with tables of two and four, in time slots ranging from 6.30 to 9.30. We can but dream.

Every one, I know at the moment seems to be on a diet or detox. They have over done it in December and want to make amends in January. I must admit that I have tried to cut down as well, I see my old friend, “glass of wine” much less often but I think the trick is not to cut down entirely. Like all good friendships, you can pick up where you left off.  It is increasingly obvious to me that, as I get older, things have to be done much more in moderation.

It is important not to cut out the things in life that make us happy. Cream cakes, glasses of wine, M&S trifle from the bowl in front of the telly (you know who you are) bacon sandwiches, chips, burgers etc. To my mind, and it might be this only works with me, is to cut down on the luxury to maybe once a week, and be a monk the rest of the week. I have heard that with meat we should eat better quality, less often. Perhaps binge on a Saturday to keep us sane and take it easy the rest of the week.

With that in mind and to those of you who don’t care, I have included a couple of recipe’s that do not pretend to be healthy but ones that might actually get you through the week.

Banana and Rum Beignet with Chocolate Sauce
100ml milk with splash of rum
90g banana
10g sugar
100g butter
100g flour
3 eggs
Puree Banana with sugar, boil milk and butter, add puree and re boil. Add flour and cook out for 1 minute, put mixture in food processor and once cool, add 1 egg at a time until fully mixed. Fry small tea spoons of the mixture until golden and drain on kitchen paper.
Chocolate sauce
300ml whipping cream
25g sugar
185g dark chocolate
Boil cream and sugar, add chocolate and take off the heat.
To serve, place Beignets on the plate with a little chocolate sauce and a scoop of ice cream.

Sicilian Cannoli
200g plain flour
40g butter
30g caster sugar
70ml Marsala
1 egg beaten
Make a dough with the flour, butter, sugar and Marsala, rest for one hour. Roll out to 1mm thickness and cut out 8cm discs with a cutter. Roll the discs round a small rolling pin or saucepan handle until the edges touch, stick edges with the beaten egg. Deep fry on 150 degrees until golden, drain, set aside and dust with icing sugar. To serve fill with sweetened Ricotta or Vanilla whipped cream.
For those of you who have watched the Sopranos, you will find the Cannoli recipe interesting. They are delicious with strong coffee as an afternoon tea treat. The Beignets can be used as a garnish with lots of other desserts or on their own as a dessert canapé.